Tag Archive | Celtic

Moon Child

harvest-fullmoon-stonehenge

Just a quick post to tell you a little bit about my new NaNoWriMo project this year.

I am writing what is evolving to be a mixture of murder mystery, adventure and tragic love story, all set at the end of the neolithic age, and covers the height and breadth of Britain, and of course it does feature some of the most prominent neolithic sites such as Stonehenge.

“The high king of Albion is murdered, and his daughter must solve the mystery, apprehend the murderer and sacrifice her greatest love to take on the mantle of her father to lead her people into a new era.”

I am taking rather a lot of liberties, and now that I know what it is, it might even qualify as ‘speculative’ fiction, since I am speculating that the people of the late neolithic age allowed almost equal status to women as to men, that these people were basically Celtic, though from an earlier wave of Celtic immigration than the Celts we know, and that they remembered their ancestors right back to Noah and the Ark. So I am using the traditional names and ideas from Geoffrey of Monmouth and others of the early inhabitants being known as the Samotheans, after their founder Samothea, and the island being known as Albion after the ‘giant’ who invaded the island but who was later defeated.

It is obviously not a ‘Christian’ novel, as it pre-dates the Christian era considerably, and it has quite a different feel to the novel that I wrote in 2012, which was very religious in content by the end of it, but that really was a cathartic process for me and included autobiographical elements – the loss of babies, moving to a new land, the depths of disappointment and despair and finding hope and new meaning and purpose in God. (That last part, to be honest, was rather speculative itself.) I did not like that book when Nanowrimo was finished, and I have not yet gone back to edit or complete it; actually I suspect it may need a complete re-drafting, and I have never showed anybody what I wrote. It was just a little bit too deeply personal and painful.

This time, hopefully, I am writing a book I would enjoy reading. It has the similar themes of tragedy and triumph, but this time I hope to enjoy the adventure a bit more.

I am downplaying the pagan elements, so it may not appeal to everyone – there is no human sacrifice, nor do the people worship the celestial bodies. These are a people who know that the sun and moon are created bodies, that there is a creator, but they know nothing of him. I also speculate that these early people did, contrary to accepted notions, have a written language, but that they used leather to write on and therefore we have no record.

So anyway, I am having a bit of fun with pre-history, basically.

I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know that I won’t have time to post regular updates on how I’m doing, though I may post again at the midpoint, and I will be posting word updates to twitter.

Here is a little excerpt, to give you a taster. After the murderer has committed the main murder, he then goes on to kill both the witnesses:

“Almost instinctively, he had reached for his dagger and had slain the second man before he had even consciously known that he had the dagger in his hand. But now Zaidar had lain Franek down, covering his eyes one final time, and stood to face the foe. The two men stood still for a moment, opposing each other in the moonlight, and the stranger knew at that moment that he had a choice – if he allowed this man to run and raise the alarm at the settlement, he would have no hope, no chance, no future. He knew that he only had one choice: kill the man and escape.”

Let me know what you think! Are you Nano-ing? What is your genre?

Finding a Trail

I don’t normally make a big deal of Easter – I normally try to keep passover and if it coincides with Easter, well and good, but if it doesn’t, it’s just another weekend.

This year though we have relatives visiting over the long weekend, with all the attending issues of a family holiday. It has also become much more like Christmas since the weather changed and we’re all stuck indoors.

I would have liked to do things ‘my way’ in a much more Jewish context but with family visiting, I’ve been inundated with all the Eastery things I dislike about the Christian festival – chocolate eggs and bunnies and the temptation to gluttony and selfishness and bad tempers.

The issue of mental health, or rather illness has reared its head as well, and I can’t help feeling, in the context of Christ’s work on the cross supposedly including healing our diseases, just very frustrated and a little bit angry (with God? With the Church?). Why is there not more healing? Why are some faithful believers never healed?

Then there has been the inevitable holiday telly. We’ve been watching “Dances with Wolves” this afternoon.

One of the themes of the film is Identity, with American / Anglo culture clearly portrayed as lacking soul and integrity in comparison with the Lakota Sioux Indian culture.

Whilst there is undoubtedly some historical revisionism going on for the film, it does seem to be an ongoing theme of shame or guilt over historical English misdeeds, all related to the idea that somewhere along the way we lost that soul and lost who we were meant to be.

It’s an old film, but it still raises the questions (for me anyway) What does my name mean? Who are we? What is English culture? Is there anything of value that’s worth saving, redeeming, re-discovering, protecting? Is it a hybrid culture anyway, a mixture of Celtic, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Norman, is it natural to carry on absorbing other cultures into our own?

But there is a deep longing, I think, to find deeper roots, so people are looking all over to find a solid path – in Buddhism or Paganism, atheism, politics, or even dare I say Judaism or Celtic Christianity.

I do believe that underneath it all is God the Rock, who is Jesus and He is solid and reliable. But in terms of health and mental health, the Rock seems so slippery, so covered in moss or seaweed or something that stops us quite getting hold of Him. How do we scrape away all the things that prevent us from holding on to the solid place?

“I was just thinking that of all the trails in this life, there are some that matter most. It is the trail of a true human being. I think you are on this trail, and it is good to see.” – Kicking Bird in Dances with Wolves

The Celtic Year

I thought I would share some of my reading, even if I don’t always manage to finish with them. In which case, I do have quite a large backlog of books I have started this year.

The Celtic Year by Shirley Toulson is a fantastic month-by-month list of Celtic saints with recommended ‘pilgrimages’ to make in every month.

It is put together in a peculiar arrangement of pagan seasons: Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane and Lammas. I think that, if I hadn’t already done a lot of research on all things Celtic, and had my hardline ‘Messianic’ head on, I might have been put off by this arrangement.

But an unexpected delight in this book has been the attention that the author has drawn to the fact that the very early Celtic church very much resembled the earliest, ancient Jewish Christian church, before it became influenced by more powerful forces.

Toulson also points out how the early pagan Celtic year resembled the Jewish year in many respects – a calendar based on the moon rather than the sun, counting the day from sunset to sunset rather than midnight to midnight, and the year from the autumn harvest instead of midwinter for example.

Additionally, the timing of the Celtic pagan festivals at the cross-quarter days, rather than the solstices and equinoxes of Anglo-Saxon and Roman paganism, are not far removed at all from the Jewish festivals. So when primitive Jewish Christianity came to Britain, as there is ample evidence it did, it would not have been an enormously difficult task to convert these pagan festivals to the new God of Christianity.

Heart of Torah

Messianic for me has been a long, hard and lonely journey. When we lived in the city we had a small (20 people) fortnightly fellowship that wasn’t Torah observant and had no understanding of the concept. Here in the country there is not even a Jewish community for miles. I just can’t do it anymore. I am now worshipping in a tiny little village church of England. (As well as The Salvation Army when I can get there) I don’t agree with everything by far, but I need real-life fellowship.

At this point in my walk as well, I feel as though I have had enough pursuing Truth – I have been doing it relentlessly for 20 years, it has been the essence of my Christianity – and now I want to start pursuing the One who is Truth (if that makes sense).

My experience with conservative Christianity and maybe Messianic even more so, has been that its emphasis has become intellectual and belief-oriented rather than heart and hand-oriented. That’s probably a caricature but I feel as though I have got as far as I can go with the pursuit of Truth.

You *can* only go so far with Truth. The idea that we can have the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth is an illusion. The Truth is bigger than our minds’ ability to perceive it, and we can only ever see it from a limited, human perspective.

So I guess what I’m saying is that I’m not hardcore Messianic anymore.

I’ve been exploring Celtic Christianity lately, and in some respects it gels beautifully with Messianic beliefs – there’s even some evidence that St Patrick and the early Celtic saints kept the Jewish sabbath and Passover before they came into contact with the Roman church.

But the Celtic believers were much more grounded and earth-bound than their more intellectual Roman (and even Jewish) cousins. Celtic Christianity was egalitarian, at one with nature, un-oppressive and much more concerned with being and doing than thinking and believing.

So often, Messianic believers discover the beauty of the Hebraic Roots of the faith, but then get stuck in the Feasts thinking that they are the heart of Torah. They’re not. The heart of Torah is love, grace, mercy, justice, lovingkindness. I’m ready for a bit more of that now.